Ahead of Expected Senate Confirmation, Trump's Pick for Israel Envoy Prepares for New Role

As the panel is set to vote on his appointment on Thursday, David Friedman meets senior figures in the Trump administration; both Friedman's opponents and supporters expect his nomination to be approved.

David Friedman prepares to testify before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, February 16, 2017.
Yuri Gripas, Reuters

As David Friedman awaits Thursday’s vote on his nomination at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for Israel envoy is already holding meetings with senior figures in the administration to prepare for the new job, which he will most likely be able to begin starting from next week. 

Sources from both sides of the fight over Friedman's nomination in the Senate expect his nomination to be approved by the committee this week, barring any new information comes out before the vote. Friedman's expressions of regret over his past statements and promises of loyalty to the policies of the Trump administration regardless of his own personal opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will get him out of the committee with enough votes to proceed.

Friedman was already expected to receive the support of almost all the Republican members of the committee, but following his backtrack of many of his past statements and positions during his confirmation hearing three weeks ago, he could also win support from a number of Democrats on the committee. This is important for him and for leading pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC, that have not taken a position on his nomination, but would not be pleased with an ambassador to Israel being approved only by members of one party. 

On Sunday night, Friedman spoke at an event in a Yeshiva in Long Island and was careful not to say anything provocative or create any headlines. He devoted most of his remarks to speaking about his late father. "He knows that the job is almost secured, and he's already talking to people in the White House about the next steps," the head of a leading Jewish organization who was briefed on the matter told Haaretz. "We are going to see more of the Friedman who appeared at the hearing three weeks ago, and less of the Friedman we were used to before the election." 

Friedman's vote at the committee is scheduled for Thursday at 10:30 A.M. as part of a regular business meeting ordered by the chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). In most cases, this kind of appointment means there will be no discussion before or after the vote – the senators will simply be asked to raise their hands for or against the nomination, and then the committee will move on to other issues. It's not clear yet when Friedman will face a full Senate vote, where his chances to pass are even higher than in the committee thanks to the Republicans' clear majority and the expected support of at least a few Democratic members.